Rogers Wireless Applies to Become Bank

By Ed Silverstein September 09, 2011

Rogers Wireless has applied to become a bank and the move would give the phone company a greater role in the promising mobile money sector, according to media reports.

Rethink Wireless reports that Rogers filed under Canada's Federal Bank Act to become a bank, and wants to offer a "niche credit card opportunity."

The proposed "Rogers Bank" will focus mainly on credit, payment and charge card services, according to TechZone360.

Such is step is considered “rare for a phone company,” reports The Toronto Globe & Mail.

But Rogers indicates it does not plan to open full service bank branches.

Mobile analyst Chetan Sharma told GigaOM that Rogers wants to "see if they can extract more value by keeping a portion of these transactions. Another impact would be to reduce churn, keep consumers a few months longer and increase the lifetime value of users," according to Rethink Wireless.

Rogers had no specific date when cards would be introduced and noted the application could take over a year, The Globe & Mail reports.

“We routinely explore opportunities to strengthen our position as a leader and innovator in the communications industry. While our core strengths remain in communications and media, we are always looking for more ways to deliver value to our customers,” Rogers spokeswoman Carly Suppa was quoted by TechZone360. “The license, if granted, would give us the flexibility to pursue a niche credit card opportunity to our customers should this make sense at a future date.”

Other operators are also trying to have a greater role in m-payments, both via online and through NFC handsets swiped in brick and mortar stores, Rethink Wireless says. For instance, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile formed Isis, a joint venture in the United States. Also, Telefonica O2 filed with the UK Financial Services Authority to get approved as a payment service provider in the United Kingdom. And NTT DoCoMo of Japan has a banking operation in Asia.

With such a move, customers can place retail charges on their monthly cell phone bills. Entering a phone number at the point of purchase is five times more likely to result in a purchase than credit card billing, according to an Open Market study cited by Rethink Wireless.

“Mobile operator billing offers a way to charge for goods and services using financial relationships that in some markets are more prevalent than credit cards," adds José Valles, head of BlueVia, in a statement quoted by Rethink Wireless.

Rogers Communications is Canada’s largest wireless company.

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Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

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